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November 26, 2012 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-11-26

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8A - Monday, November 26, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

8A - Monday, November 26, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom


"We know we're fabulous."
'Quartet' strikes a
powerful chord

"All you have to do is kill cupid, and then you can join our gang."
Artistry can't salvage
plot in 'Guardians'

Heavyweight actors
bring base emotions
to highfalutin film
DailyArts Writer
Never underestimate a grown
man's capacity to throw a hissy
fit. And as writer-director Yaron
proves in "A
Late Quartet," A Late
it doesn't mat- Quartet
ter if this man
is the most Atthe
brilliant being Michigan
to ever walk
the planet ... or EntertainmentOne
Justin Bieber.
When the chips are down and
those nasty, nasty insults are
being thrown around, anyone can
flip their shit.
In this case, "anyone" is an elite
quartet of classical musicians
entering what will be their 25th
The leader of the group is Peter
Mitchell (Christopher Walken,
"Seven Psychopaths"), a wise and
dedicated cellist quietly griev-
ing the loss of his wife. Next to
Peter sits second violinist Robert
Gelbart (Philip Seymour Hoff-
man, "The Master"). Robert is
the emotional center of the quar-
tet, bringing with him a colorful
passion that adds cohesion to the
Robert's wife, Juliette (Cath-
erine Keener, "Being John Mal-
kovich") plays viola and is the
oft-weepy conscience of the
group, her lip quivering at the

slightest sign of confrontation.
The most intriguing character in
the film is Daniel Lerner (Mark
Ivanir, "The Adventures of Tin-
tin"), first violinist for the quartet
and a man completely obsessed
with the idea of achieving techni-
cal perfection in music.
The film starts off as an exami-
nation of the complex dynamics
holding the musicians together,
with Zilberman taking time to
highlight how these codependent
relationships mirror Beethoven's
"Opus 131," the classic piece to
be played at the season's first
concert. It's a belabored start to
a rather forcefully strung movie,
but sets the stage well for the
moment everything devolves into
This moment is one of those
"Oh-no-she-didn't" instances
that pops up after Peter mourn-
fully announces he is experienc-
ing early signs of Parkinson's and
wishes to retire after his next
performance. After the obligatory'
displays of grief, Robert quickly
seizes the opportunity to high-
light resentments he has been
harboring about exclusively play-
ing second violin - a role some
consider less important than the
first violinist's. Ultimately, it all
boils down to Robert angrily ask-
ing Juliette whether or not she
believes he's truly a better violin-
ist than Daniel.
The response shocks Robert to
his very core, setting in motion
a series of events involving the
most infantile cases of sexual
deceit and butt-hurtedness seen
all year. But surprisingly, in an
almost Jerry Springer-esque
sense, the movie is more enter-
taining because of it. Of course,

it doesn't hurt that all four of
the actors involved deliver some
of the most memorable perfor-
mances of the year.
Every time Seymour Hoff-
man hurtles shrill insults across
the room, it's guaranteed that
everyone in the audience will feel
the tendrils of outrage sprout-
ing out of his eyes. On the same
token, Walken brings the sense
of relevant humanity we've come
to expect from him. His scenes
are sad and, at times, difficult to
watch for two reasons. The first is.
the situation in which his charac-
ter finds himself - grieving wid-
ower beginning to lose his music,
the only thing he really cares
about anymore. The second rea-
son is the efficacy of Christopher
The brilliance of the per-
formance becomes clear when
Walken capitalizes on the cruel
banality of Peter's plight to forge
a connection between mental and
physical decline. The associa-
tion is harrowingly visible in the
slightest quiver of Walken's hands
as he lays eyes on his cello - once
an object he knew so intimately, it
has cruelly turned into a constant
reminder of inadequacy.
In addition to the acting, what
elevates this film is its dedicated
respect for Beethoven's music,
emphatically echoed in every plot
development on screen. Some-
how, the dignified intricacy of
every composition becomes more
than just something nice to hear.
Somehow, the celebrated melo-
dies put us in the shoes of our
beleaguered quartet. And what do
we learn? Those cultured intellec-
tuals in Carnegie Hall watch soap
operas, too.

DailyArts Writer
Why are filmmakers trying
to change the holidays? Over
the years, moviemakers have
attempted to
technify mov-
ies to keep up
with chang- Rise of the
ing technology .d
and tastes, and Guardians
it has almost At Quality16
never worked. and Rave
This is proven
in "Rise of the Paramount
which tries to take a fresh look
at Christmas, Easter, the Tooth
Fairy and'even formerly insignifi-
cant Jack Frost, but only confuses
the traditions we love.
Chris Pine ("Star Trek") is the
roguish and isolated Jack Frost,
who combats his loneliness by
bringing joy to children via snow
days. Jack is wildly unhappy
because he doesn't feel appreciat-
ed by the other magical creatures
- the question of what he actu-
ally does is left for the audience
to guess at. He is promoted by the
mysterious Man inthe Moon, an
unexplained presence, tojoin the
Guardians, a select group of holi-
day favorites who vow to protect
the children of the world.
The Guardians are composed
of a Russian, tattooed Santa (a
barely recognizable Alec Bald-.
win, "Rock of Ages"), a cocky,
six-foot-tall Easter Bunny (Hugh
Jackman, "Real Steel"), an under-
standably perky Tooth Fairy (Isla
Fisher, "Bachelorette"), and a
(blessedly silent) Sandman.
Though their duties vary
widely, the Guardians all share
the goal of bringing happiness

to child
when th
Law, "S
known a
his com
away ch
ing the
fear. He
fears. D
of your


ren, which is threatened The film is overly conceptual
te truly evil Pitch (Jude as it not only attempts to turn
herlock Holmes"), also Christmas, but all the other holi-
as the Boogeyman, begins days, on their heads. It wastes
prehensive plan to take the talents of these actors and
ildren's hopes and instill- the surprising vitality they bring
m with all-consuming to these revamped characters by
does so by sending his placing the focus on Jack Frost,
tares, ghoulish horses, to who is a weak character at best.
the dreams sent by the Really, his essential gift to chil-
n into children's worst dren is snow days? The core. of
eeply hurt and extremely the film is supposedly about Jack
us, Pitch is actually ter- finding himself and growing into
because nothing is more his role as a Guardian; but in the
ing than a physical form end no one- really cares. As he
nightmares. and Pitch battle in the climax,
you almost want Pitch to win,
because he's at least entertaining
C eave our in a glossy Voldemort sort of way.
Perhaps the issue isn't that
:hildhood director Peter Ramsey ("Monster
vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from
!roes alone Outer Space") tried to recreate
s the holidays, but that he does too
Iollyw ood! muchtoo quickly, and instead cre-
ates a feeling of discord among all
these characters and their respec-
tive traditions. Ramsey began
is by far the most vibrant his career as an illustrator and
r, perhaps because he's storyboard artist,, which shows
new - no one has ever in the crystalline animation and
personify the Boogeyman fantastical scenes. "Guardians" is
However, the other char- an artistic gem, and the animators
hough at times funny in bring vibrancy and personality to
teractions, falter because the characters and their magical
en't what we know and homes, but this artistry does not
I the plot is too convoluted lend itself to a very linear plot.
get to know them. In their This is not a typical Christ-
stop the Boogeyman, the mas film, but it is part of a newly
guardians travelfromthe forming shift toward revolution-
ale to rural Pennsylvania, izing holiday movies. Separately,
h Mountain, to the Rab- most of the factors of this film
rren in a dizzying flash of work - Santa and Bunny humor-
olors and magical minor ously banter, Pitch is chilling and
rs. None of it makes the animation is stunning, but
nd the overstuffed plot everything together becomes
ves to distract from these a jumbled, unnecessary mess.
t actors and the beautiful Simplicity needs to return to the
on. holidays.

tried to
acters, t
their in
they ar
love, and
to let us,
race to
North P
to Tootl
bit's Wa
bright c
sense, a
only ser

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